Why is it that men in the Indian subcontinent have abandoned their traditional clothing for something that appears more Western? Pakistani people are mimicking the exact fashions of those who had colonized them over 150 years ago. The British, who came to India in 1852, immediately deemed the people of India as inferior, regardless of their intellectual, architectural and other achievements. People of this race were not allowed to even walk on the same sidewalk as a British person. It seems that this change in wardrobe in South Asian men was an attempt to proclaim superiority.
However, during the time of their conquest, the British did not take regard of whether the Indian people dressed in a British wardrobe or not. The British train conductor still threw Mohandas Gandhi off of his train because of his race regardless of his British attire and fluent English. Yet today in South Asia, men are eager to mimic the fashions of their conquerors. This is despite the fact that both Pakistanis and Indians fought hard in hopes to free themselves of their British enslavement a mere 65 years ago. Today however, people in the Indian subcontinent are enslaving themselves with the Western culture while throwing their own culture down the drain. Men in that region seem to have gained insecurity in their cultural presentation.
This culture change is especially highlighted in the media. In today’s Bollywood movies, successful entrepreneurs or career men would be dressed in suits and ties during their day to day lives and would only dress in their traditional cultural clothing during special occasions.
While shopping in an urban city marketplace in Pakistan, one would rarely find the casual men’s shalwar kameez that may have been prominent ten to fifteen years ago. One would, however, encounter many Western fashions such as jeans and suits meant for everyday wear. If one was looking for traditional clothing, one may find more formal designs of this clothing meant only for special occasions such as weddings. In order to obtain casual attire, one would be required to have it custom made which would naturally increase the cost.
Living in the West, Pakistani Americans are more susceptible to forgetting the culture of their homeland. However, one should attempt to maintain a steady balance between their Pakistani culture and the Western culture. This is especially difficult for those who are born and raised in the United States regardless of their South Asian background. Such youth have not had the same exposure to the culture as one from an older generation may have.
One should embrace both cultures and maintain them as part of their identity. With the lack of something as simple as clothing, South Asian culture is experiencing a loss of a body of knowledge that in the near future may extend to other aspects of culture, such as food and language. It is possible that future generations would not even be familiar with traditional clothing that is meant for everyday wear.
Everyone should do their part in maintaining the prevalence of this knowledge through expressing culture. One should remember to always embrace their differences instead of eliminating them.